These quotations are as of September 2005

  1. Political Parties
  2. Commentators in media and civil society
  3. Business Community
  4. The Catholic Church and the Islamic Community

This overview of opinions in the Austrian debate on Turkish EU-accession is also available for download in PDF-format.

These quotations are also available in the original German version

 

Political Parties

The ruling Austrian People's Party (ÖVP, Österreichische Volkspartei)

Wolfgang Schüssel
"Turkey's EU accession would cost as much as the recent accession of all ten new members. Before saying there is full membership for Turkey, someone has to explain to me how to finance that. We have to keep the absorption capacity of the EU in mind. This is what we owe to the anxieties and worries of our citizens."

(Der Spiegel, 21 August 2005)

"I support a referendum in Austria, should an EU accession of Turkey happen."

(Kurier, 4 June 2005)

"The summit is not about membership. The summit is about the start of membership negotiations. And I believe that is something everyone wants."

(Austrian Press Agency, 16 December 2004)

Wolfgang Schüssel, Austrian Chancellor (People's Party) since 2000

Ursula Plassnik
"Turkey also plays an exceptionally important role in our relationship with the closer and more distant neighborhood area of the European Union. (Turkey) is a significant factor of stability for the Caucasus, for Central Asia, and for the whole Middle East. The start of negotiations with Turkey is looming. The European Council has decided to start on 3 October. Until then, we will have to find agreement upon a common negotiating framework within the European Union. Everyone knows that Austria has been very active in its support to protect the openness of the negotiating goal. It is now a question of working through the negotiating process step by step, chapter by chapter, in a professional and conscientious manner. The European Council has reiterated the Union's ability to take in new members as a condition, alongside compliance with the accession criteria on the part of the candidate. At this occasion, I would like to refer to the remarkable process of reform that has taken place in Turkey in the past years. Yesterday, Abdullah Gül and I had the opportunity to comment on that before the media, but I also want to acknowledge this before him: these reforms are far-reaching, they will be sustainable, and we will accompany (Turkey) supportively in this process, even if we know the negotiations with the European Union will take their time, and they will perhaps not always be very easy."

Ursula Plassnik's speech at the Europa-Forum Wachau in the presence of Abdullah Gül, Turkish foreign minister. Stift Göttweig, Austria, 4 June 2005

Ursula Plassnik, Austrian Foreign Minister since December 2004

Reinhold Lopatka
"We say 'yes' to negotiations, and it is thanks to chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel that, at the end of the 10–15 year-long negotiating process, there will not be a guarantee of EU membership for Turkey."

Austrian Press Agency, 19 December 2004

Reinhold Lopatka, Secretary General of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP)

Andreas Kohl
"And chaos is complete if some governments do not deal properly with their population in a fundamental question like Turkey's accession. I think that Turkey was the main question in France (in the referendum decision). President Chirac was the main proponent for Turkish accession at the summit… Turkey is a special case. The question of accession is not on the table in the next 15 or 20 years. The EU Commission has also to take some criticism. It confirmed, for instance, that Turkey was ready for Europe because reforms had been carried out. The population in the EU countries saw that differently.

To pledge a turnaround in European policy, which the Social Democratic Party is doing, makes me uneasy. The consensus on European policy has been firm through all different governments. There was also consensus over the European constitution. It has always been clear that there are at least three parties that share one opinion, most of the time even four. If one says now, we want to change all that, then this is dramatic.

Profil: The terms of a turnaround have been defined: freezing enlargement until the constitution is amended.

Khol: What (trade union) president Verzetnitsch sketched out in his speech, turning to a social Europe, a Lisbon-Europe – that is where we are fully on board. But ratification stop, enlargement stop – this is a turnaround I would deplore."

profil magazine, 23 July 2005

Andreas Khol (People's Party), President of the Austrian National Council

Benita Ferrero-Waldner
"There should be adherence to the start of negotiations on 3 October. There is, however, no guarantee for full membership."

News magazine 32/2005, 11 August 2005

Benita Ferrero-Waldner (People's Party), EU commissioner for external relations. From 2000 to 2004, Ferrero-Waldner was Austria's foreign minister

Franz Fischler
"[In my letter to enlargement commissioner Günther Verheugen in July 2004,] I did not ask to postpone the start of negotiations with Turkey. I wrote my letter without previous coordination with Austria. My aim was to avoid a hasty debate and last-minute decisions within the European Commission… I believe it is cynical to force Turkey into Europeanization, when everybody strongly believes that, at the end, there will be countries vetoing Turkey's membership. We can only progress once the EU can present a fair and attractive offer within its European Neighborhood Policy. I am personally convinced that even the Turks will soon start to question the costs and gains of full membership. Still, I am 90 percent sure that negotiations will start on 3 October 2005. Maybe one will still find a compromise formula to be incorporated into the negotiation framework. Such a formula could then be interpreted to the satisfaction of their population by all involved parties, including the Turks."

(ESI telephone interview, 11 August 2005)

"We have to thank the church for enhancing the feeling of cooperation within Europe. However, one should keep a clear dividing line between issues for the churches, and their task in our society, and questions of political leadership… We should not mix up things now. Religious arguments are not called for in this issue."

(Fischler's statement at the Wallfahrt der Völker, ORF Online, 22 May 2004)

Franz Fischler (former People's Party politician), EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, (and Fisheries, from 1999) from 1994 to 2004. He is now an independent consultant

Othmar Karas
"The ÖVP-MEP Othmar Karas is criticizing the current domestic debate on the EU, and voices his opposition to the suggestions of Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel. He firmly rejects a national referendum on Turkey, as announced by the Chancellor. I have always supported European referenda – however, just regarding new treaties of the community… As long as the rules of the EU are being adhered to, no one had to demand a halt to enlargement. Because there would not be an accession of Turkey before 2019 (anyway). It should be made clear that Austria has had a vote on all these EU-decisions."

Die Presse, 29 July 2005

Othmar Karas (People's Party), a MEP who has been opposing a national referendum on Turkey's EU accession. He was the only Austrian People's Party MEP to endorse the Eurlings report on 15 December 2004

Karl-Heinz Grasser
"It would be wrong to negotiate full Turkish membership of the EU… I will make sure to communicate clearly to Turkey that we have every interest in economic and social stabilization, but we cannot envisage full membership. I think, too, that the heads of state and government have recognized that the Turkey question has become too removed from the people… In the past, negotiations have always led to actual full membership. I want to redefine that. We cannot get hopes up too high."

Financial Times, 18 July 2005

Karl-Heinz Grasser is the Austrian finance minister. Although nominally independent, he is a de facto minister of the People's Party.

 

The junior coalition partner Bündnis Zukunft Österreich (BZÖ)

Jörg Haider
"Apparently, we are led by a bunch of idiots in this republic,” said Jörg Haider, referring to the generally opposing stance towards Turkish EU-membership. Haider criticized the attitude of EU commissioner Franz Fischler "and others in the Austrian government who were first endorsing accession and now warn against it", as "opportunism" and a “cynical game.” Haider criticized the opponents of Turkish accession for seeking to "win easy political merits"” The Turkish electorate in Vienna would also be a constituency for the FPÖ, because, in reality, the Turks are rather conservative people and no leftists."

(Format, 23 September 2004)

Concerning enlargement: previously you were in favour of negotiations between he EU and Turkey. Now you are opposed. Previously you stated that concerns about Turkey reflected the „lack of courage of the ruling classes".
Haider: "The mood has changed in the wake of the negative referenda in France and the Netherlands. People had been promised new jobs. This did not come about. Now people have pressed the stop button, and I accept this."

Do you go along with every change of mood?
Haider: "No. However, it is important to take the concerns of people seriously. I do this, as opposed to other politicians. Europe is ill, lies in bed fed and is fed artificially. In this situation you cannot expect the patient to undertake another enlargement marathon."

(Kurier, 27 July 2005)

Jörg Haider, leader of the BZÖ party and governor of Carinthia

Hubert Gorbach
"If Turkey does not recognize Cyprus as a sovereign member of the European Union with its borders determined according to international law, full entry will not be possible."

(Bloomberg News, 2 August 2005)

Hubert Gorbach (BZÖ) is the Austrian Deputy Chancellor and Minister for Infrastructure.

 

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SPÖ)

Alfred Gusenbauer
"Turkey in the EU would mean the end of the EU, if that does not happen before anyway. What I understand as integration might not even be possible with 25 member states anymore. The speed of enlargement has been too high."

(ESI Interview 23 May 2005)

"It would be a huge mistake to push away countries like Ukraine or Turkey." The question was whether cooperation could only work via EU-membership or whether other modes of association might be possible. Gusenbauer pledged again to "negotiate an enlarged association agreement."

(Austrian Press Agency, 14 July 2005)

Alfred Gusenbauer has been the chairman of the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) since 29 April 2000.

Josef Cap
"The Austrian government is requested not to consent to the start of accession negotiations with Turkey at the European Council on 16 and 17 December 2004, and to support instead further intensification of relations between the EU and Turkey in the form of a strategic partnership, oriented along the EEA-model, for which negotiations should start immediately."

(Request for statement according to Art. 23e Abs. 2 B-VG of representative Dr. Cap and other MPs concerning the summit of the European Council on 16 and 17 December 2005)

On 2 August 2005, Cap reiterated his fundamental opposition to Turkish EU membership and called upon Wolfgang Schüssel and Ursula Plassnik to "incorporate the goal of a privileged partnership in the negotiations framework between the EU and Turkey."

(Die Presse, 2 August 2005)

Josef Cap (Social Democratic Party), leader of the party in the parliament

Norbert Darabos
"The SPÖ endorsed negotiations with Turkey on a closer association with the EU – along the model of the EEA – but against negotiations on EU accession of Turkey, reiterated SPÖ-Secretary General Norbert Darabos… The EU had just taken in ten new member states and had to process this step first. The focus had to be on deepening integration now… The population's skeptical stance should be taken very seriously and one should "lend an ear to the people." Darabos said he would not exclude EU-membership negotiations for the future. It could be possible to ponder those ten years down the road."

(Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) Press Release, 28 September 2004, summarizing Darabos' interview on Austrian radio)

Norbert Darabos, Secretary General of the Austrian Social Democratic Party

Heinz Fischer
"I believe the agreement of the heads of states and governments with regards to accession negotiations with Turkey is right. One has to work responsibly and fairly on the realization of these decisions now."

(Ansprache von Bundespräsident Dr. Heinz Fischer anlässlich des Neujahrsempfangs für das Diplomatische Corps, 18 January 2005)

Six months later, Heinz Fischer co-authored and signed a letter of seven European heads of states on European Integration:

"The EU's 'open door' policy proved to be successful. The accession of new members has given Europe new momentum and new possibilities… As regards the enlargement agenda, the principle "pacta sunt servanda" must apply. What has been agreed has, of course, to be respected. Potential accession candidates need realistic perspectives, which will also create additional incentives for deeper domestic reforms and adoption of European standards. Membership criteria, including democracy, the respect of human rights and the rule of law, have equally to apply to all applicants."

(Der Standard, 15 July 2005. This is an excerpt of a joint letter by seven European heads of states, published in several European newspapers)

Heinz Fischer (Social Democratic Party) is the President of Austria

Johannes Swoboda
"I find it a pity that the Social Democratic Party chose (the anti-Turkey stance). I do not think it won the party many votes in Austria… [Faction leader] Josef Cap is a populist, and let himself be pushed into this negative stance."

(ESI Interview on 20 May 2005)

"One should start open-ended negotiations with Turkey… The social democratic party should stand firm on decisions that were endorsed by former SPÖ-led governments… Any party acting in the national interest should stand firm on certain fundamental assumptions. One of these fundamental assumptions was that we start negotiations with Turkey, open-ended negotiations."

(Austrian Press Agency, 28 July 2005)

Johannes Swoboda (Social Democratic Party) is a vice president of the PES group in the EP, and has been a MEP since 1996.

Michael Häupl
Kurier: The (social democratic) clientele is known as xenophobic.
Michael Häupl: People are not xenophobic, but they are worried. I take their worries seriously.

Kurier: What do you hear from people on Turkey?
Häupl: I do not fool myself. People do not want Turkey in the EU, nor the Balkans. I understand that, but I do not hide my opinion on negotiations with Turkey either. However, in terms of regional peace, the Balkans are more important to me than Turkey.

Kurier: You are in support of open-ended Turkey negotiations. That can cost you votes.
Häupl: That is where I stand, and I cannot do otherwise."

(Kurier, 29 July 2005)

Michael Häupl has been the Mayor and Governor of Vienna since 1994, and the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Vienna since 1993.

 

The opposition Green party (Die Grünen)

Alexander van der Bellen
"Treaties are to be respected. That is the most important principle for negotiations with Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria… Accession negotiations with Turkey and Croatia are agreed upon… Turkey has been sitting in the EU's waiting room for 40 years, and negotiations are to be started. I cannot sign the accession of Turkey right now due to shortcoming prerequisites – but who knows about the situation ten years down the road."

(News magazine 32/2005, 11 August 2005)

Alexander Van der Bellen, Chairman of the Austrian Green party

Johannes Voggenhuber
"The discussion on Turkish EU membership is dominated by an instrumental way of thinking which assumes that Turkey can be democratically transformed, and that the EU shall take over the geopolitically exposed role of Turkey. Yet these arguments have nothing to do with the question whether Turkey has the same European project in mind as we do. It is eerie to witness the acceleration of a process [of accession] whose foundations have never been discussed in a public, democratic and parliamentary way."

(ESI Interview, 17 May 2005)

Johannes Voggenhuber (The Greens), Austrian MEP

 

The opposition Freedom Party (FPÖ, Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs)

Heinz-Christian Strache
"Turkey has no business to be in Europe."

(ORF Summer Talks, a live interview series on national TV, 23 August 2005)

Heinz-Christian Strache, chairman of the FPÖ

 

Commentators in media and civil society

Christian Rainer
"Turkey will have 90 million inhabitants soon… Sure, accession of Turkey might be fostering peace. But even if the EU was, in its roots, founded as a European peace project, people overlook that the EU has long become an economic project… This economically determined Europe – which can only later become a political entity – is endangered by the accession of Turkey. A country with 90 million people, who, per capita, even in 2015 will only generate a third of the average EU GDP, is a huge risk. Disparities in the realms of income, job markets and industrialization can cause our achievements to crumble. This economic dimension is overlooked by the advocates of Turkish EU accession at the cost of the peace debate."

(profil, 11 October 2004)

Christian Rainer, publisher and editor-in-chief, profil weekly magazine

Peter Michael Lingens
"Where, exactly, lies the special risk if the EU assesses for at least ten years whether the reforms, which Turkey has indisputably been carrying out, are really worthy and prove sound against any reaction, from, say, the military or Islamic fundamentalists?… The argument that 'negotiations' have so far always ended in 'accession' is not obligatory at all (nothing prevents the EU from acting differently with Turkey). Most importantly, this argument leads to the conclusion that doubtful candidate countries have been worthy of the test after all. Against an EU accession of Ireland, for instance, one could invoke its poverty, religious fanaticism and the terror of the IRA – but the rapprochement with the EU ended poverty, fanatiicsm and terror… Other two key examples are… Slovakia and Romania… But the most compelling example of the EU´s appeal of reform is Turkey itself. As long as the carrot of membership was not on the table during the 1990s, criticism of the situation in Turkey was quite futile. No single party pushed reforms. But in 1999, Turkey was accepted as a candidate country, and the reform process was kicked off. Already in 2001, 34 constitutional changes demanded by the EU were carried out."

(profil, 11 October 2004)

Peter Michael Lingens, a commentator with profil and founder of this weekly magazine in 1970

Armin Thurner
"We do not have a debate here, but rather a mess on one side, and clenched teeth on the other. The longer this situation prevails, the more I think we could use these Turks quite well in the EU. It is hard to bear the self-righteousness of a country where slavery was abolished 150 years ago, and which devoted itself to a Christian-fundamentalist dictatorship 70 years ago, then to the Nazis, and, which only arrived at today's status after 1945 with the energetic help from the West and the Marshall plan."

(Falter, 4 October 2004)

Armin Thurnher is editor-in-chief of Falter, a weekly, left-liberal newspaper read mostly in Vienna

Hans Rauscher
"Accession (of Turkey and Ukraine), because only that enables transformation, and therefore risking that Turkish nationalism endangers the EU's self-understanding as a "soft power"? Or, rejecting [those countries] and therefore risking that large states like Ukraine and Turkey are lost for the West? Can Turkish nationalism, the intensity of which has apparently been underestimated, be alleviated through accession, or would we be importing infinite troubles?"

(Der Standard, 30 April 2005)

Hans Rauscher, an influential freelance commentator for the daily, left-liberal paper Der Standard and the liberal weekly news and business magazine Format, among others

Andreas Unterberger
"Taking Turkey into a community as close as the EU would mean the end to European integration. Turkey is (just like Russia) too big, too populous, to fit into the European balance. Turkey is in large part a third-world country, and had therefore a structure not built for Europe. Despite all its efforts at secularism, Turkey will remain culturally absolutely different from the EU-Europe for a long time to come. Helmut Kohl was the last one to dare spell out this 'no'. Since then, different motives have taken over."

(Die Presse, Page One, 14 September 1999)

Andreas Unterberger is the editor-in-chief of the daily Wiener Zeitung and an influential conservative commentator

Paul Lendvai
"All EU-top politicians – whether social or Christian democrats – who passed the former resolutions on Turkey have always been aware of the immense economic and human rights problems of a country with 70 million inhabitants (of whom nearly 99 percent are Muslims!). Yet, today, little is being said about the fact that EU policy has been achieving undisputed success in Turkey. The Islamist premier Erdogan has pushed the rapprochement to Europe in a relatively short period of time, more than any other government before him. Should the Turkish experiment – the co-existence of Islam and modernity – turn out well, then this would be a success with immense repercussions in the fight against the fundamentalist wire-pullers of global terror."

(Der Standard, 1 September 2005)

Paul Lendvai is a Hungarian-born Austrian television and print journalist, book author, and a prominent expert on Eastern Europe

Erhard Busek
"I do believe that the European Union is not up to membership of Turkey because we would be neighbors with Syria, Iraq, Iran, as well as the Caucasus and Central Asia. For that to work, we would need a European government and, most importantly, a European army… This means a 'no' to negotiations at this point of time, because the EU has failed to do its homework."

(Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, OE1 Abendjournal, 16 December 2004)

Oberösterreichische Nachrichten:
"You were a skeptic on EU enlargement and said it came too early."

Erhard Busek: "I still believe that. It helped created the current woes in the EU. People had not been prepared at all. This is also the problem with Turkey. I think one should behave properly and not start negotiations."

OÖN: "How would one thwart negotiations now?"

Busek: "I support saying 'no', because I do not deem it proper to say, we start negotiations but you will not become a member."

(Oberösterreichische Nachrichten, 5 August 2005)

Erhard Busek (People's Party) is the Special Co-ordinator for the Stability Pact for South-eastern Europe in Brussels

Albert Rohan
"Our goal was to allow for objectivity in the debate. We wanted to raise negative and positive aspects while at the same time endorsing the start of negotiations… We want to offer an early warning system to the Turks, in order to point out possible dangers in the Turkish process and its ramifications in the EU. Erdogan needs political help now. It is important to make sure within the EU to give him presentation opportunities and to embark on fair treatment… Turkey needs to be accepted, and this will keep us busy for the next ten years."

(ESI interview, 3 May 2005)

Albert Rohan, Rapporteur of the "Independent Turkey Commission"

Ewald Novotny
"I believe taking in large, poor countries such as Ukraine, Belarus or Turkey would destroy the EU. I think it is impossible to envisage membership [in these cases]. These countries should seriously be offered a privileged partnership, but it is a path into ruin of the EU to work towards membership. Such a large EU would not be governable anymore; too many differences within would make consensus impossible, and the economic disparities are too big as well. The burden on the current member states would be too immense to expected from the populations. It is a fundamental mistake to see the question of EU enlargement primarily from a foreign policy angle. As shown by the referenda on the EU constitution, approval of the EU is a function of people's life circumstances, and these would be negatively influenced by the accession of large, poor, countries."

(Alpbach News, 23 August 2005)

Ewald Nowotny is a Viennese economist, a former deputy director of the European Investment Bank, and a former social democratic MP

 

Business Community

Christoph Leitl
"Without a stable foundation, Europe cannot – financially and politically – cope with the accession of new member states, especially of the size of Turkey. Therefore, our motto can only be: Deepening before enlargement… If negotiations start – as planned – on 3 October, given Ankara has by then conducted the necessary reforms, then they have to be led with open-ended results, and alternatives to membership have to remain possible."

(Press Release, Austrian Chamber of Commerce - WKO, 29 June 2005)

"The EU should not enlarge further in the next two decades… Given 40 million Anatolian peasants, and 14 million unemployed within the EU, one should not encourage hopes for membership which the EU cannot live up to."

(Kurier, 4 May 2004)

Christoph Leitl is the current chairman of Eurochambres, the president of Austria's chamber of commerce, the chairman of the People Party's powerful "Wirtschaftsbund" grouping

Franz Rössler
"Austrian business people are driven by a large number of irrational considerations towards Turkey, and we try to sit them down and talk about facts… But also the Turkish embassy and business community in Austria do not take a lot of initiative. While other countries are pushing us, I have to initiate events on Turkey by myself. Even the Austrian-Turkish Business Cooperation Council does not openly support Turkish EU-membership. At their annual meeting, only one person stood up and encouraged the council to state their support openly, but he was immediately voted down by the rest."

(ESI Interview, 4 May 2005)

Franz Rössler is the Austrian Foreign Trade Promotion Organisation´s Regional Manager for South-eastern Europe at the Austrian Chamber of Commerce

Christian Konrad
"I cannot imagine full membership, because it is politically not feasible. Many European countries will hold referenda, and the whole thing will collapse. Needless to say a peace project cannot be ambitious enough. But full membership of Turkey is not possible due to national-political reasons… I believe rapprochement towards the EU will be realized through a special partnership."

(trend, monthly business magazine, 1 December 2004)

Christian Konrad is the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Raiffeisen Zentralbank, the international branch of which is very active in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans

Hannes Androsch
"Due to the low birth rate, Europe's population will stagnate and decline, also here in Austria. The question of an EU-membership of Turkey has to be seen against this background, but also in the light of the traditional cultural, spiritual, and historical relations of Central Europe with Turkey, where we find the roots of Christian and therefore Occidental history… The discussion around the EU-membership of Turkey, which I support under certain prerequisites, has been influenced by xenophobic attitudes."

(Speech in the series, Wiener Vorlesungen, "Österreich Zweite Republik: Befund, Kritik, Perspektive," 26 January 2005)

Hannes Androsch, a former social democratic finance minister, is now one of Austria's leading industrialists and an influential voice

Julius Meinl V.
"If we, as Europe, want to play a role in this world between China… and the U.S., we have to take Turkey into the Union. Contrary to a popular prophecy, this enlargement will not spell the end of the Union. A formula between the church and Islam will be found. Historical, strategic and, most importantly, peace considerations turn the accession of Turkey – a clearly Western-oriented country – into an imperative."

(Format magazine, 17 February 2005)

Julius Meinl V., presides over Meinl Bank AG, one of Austria's leading private banks with international operations

Wilhelm Hörmanseder
"One does not have to rush straight to China in the search of growing markets… European markets are saturated while Turkey boasts an attractive growth rate. We should not skip such a chance."

(trend monthly business magazine, 1 December 2004 )

Wilhelm Hörmanseder is Chief Executive Officer of the Austrian Mayr-Melnhof group

 

The Catholic Church and the Islamic Community

Christoph Schönborn
"Answers in black or white are usually too simplistic. It is not a question of faith; these are political questions, where Catholics can have different attitudes. Secondly, we say clearly, for membership negotiations to prove fruitful, it has to be ensured that the legal criteria, the human rights criteria, which are valid for Europe, are also fully adhered to in Turkey. Asked about a Christian 'leading culture' and its meaning for Muslims, Jews, and other non-Christians in Europe, Schönborn said, "a Christian leading culture (leitkultur) means for instance the Christian image of humanity. If, today, we are proud of the freedom of religion in Europe, then this is for sure also the fruit of the Christian image of humanity, and the foundations of the gospel, the bible, enshrining absolute respect for the conscience of the other, for the freedom of the other, even if the churches have not always practiced that in the past. But, according to the gospel, and to Jesus Christ, the message is clear: Respect for the decision of conscience, and the attitude of conscience, of the other. This is, for instance, a point which obliges us Christians to a tolerant attitude. This also asks from other religious communities to be convinced about this principle of the freedom of conscience, and the freedom of humans, and to adhere to these convictions."

(ORF OE1 Mittagsjournal, 23 December 2004 )

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Chairman of the Austrian Bishops' Conference

Franz Eckert
"Despite continuing shortcomings, and discrimination, regarding the equal status for Christians, the opportunities of EU-membership negotiations with Turkey would outweigh the possible negative outcomes of a refusal (of negotiations). Religious- and minority rights would only exist on paper so far, and would not yet be fully lived up to in practice, but Turkey's Europeanization could not happen overnight. According to Eckert, the clear vote of Christians in Turkey – the Catholic Bishops' Conference, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartolomaios I., and the protestant church in Turkey had been supporting membership negotiations – bore more weight than the skeptics in the current debates over the EU-Turkey issue. Eckert also said, "it is horrible, and sometimes even shameful, with how little factual knowledge, and with how many emotions, these debates are being conducted."

(Radio Stephansdom, "Perspektiven" feature series, 7 October 2004, summary by kathpress and the Austrian Press Agency on 8 October 2004)

Franz Eckert, deacon, is the Austrian Bishops' Conference envoy for European Integration

Egon Kapellari
"Turkey is no part of Europe. Turkey is large and unstable within, and its secularism is only skin deep, with seething unrest lingering beneath. The EU would not be able to cope with Turkey's accession. I do not only say that because I am a Catholic bishop. I would be just as fervently against accession if I was a liberal agnostic, since I would fear an intolerant society." This should not be understood as discrimination against Islam, underlined the bishop. "We have to do everything possible to have a good relationship with the Muslims living in Europe, and with Turkey. But I do not think full integration is possible!" An alternative might be an "intensified partnership". "Let´s abandon the project of full integration, and let's stay close anyway. This would be an honest way to go."

(Kathpress 21 Juni 2005, summarizing an interview Kapellari Granted the "Kleine Zeitung")

Egon Kapellari, the Bishop of the Diocese of Graz

Anas Schafkeh
"It is hypocritical to invoke the religious argument against an EU accession of Turkey. EU accession should rather be seen as enrichment."

(Press Statement of the Islamic Community in Austria, Islamische Glaubensgemeinschaft in Österreich, at www.derislam.at, May 2004)

Anas Schakfeh, president of the Islamic Community in Austria


This overview of opinions in the Austrian debate on Turkish EU-accession is also available for download in PDF-format.

These quotations are also available in the original German version